Carved Anishinaabek sculpture installed at the Grand Valley campus in Grand Rapids

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GRAND RAPIDS, MI — A new Anishinaabek sculpture has landed on Grand Valley State University’s Mount Vernon Trail to show the connectedness of humanity.

Akii Ndodem (Earth Totem) is a carved Anishinaabek limestone sculpture created by Jason Quigno, a local Anishinaabe artist.

The 20-foot-tall sculpture is located on GVSU’s Grand Rapids campus.

It was installed May 24 as the culmination of the original plan to house a sculpture at the north end of the track off Fulton Street, GVSU director of Gaeries and Collections Nathan Kemler said in a statement. hurry.

The design contains deep cuts to represent rivers, raised areas to represent the teachings of the Seven Grandfathers, and four sides to represent the four cardinal directions, four seasons, and four stages of life, Kemler said.

The sculpture was selected by an artistic advisory group made up of GVSU and community stakeholders, according to a press release.

The piece took shape in the studio in Grand Rapids, southwest of Quigno, where he carves stone, Quigno said. It’s a process he’s done since he was a teenager.

He said he used a favorite artistic element of the lines in the piece which are somewhat repetitive as if the stone has movement.

“To this day, I find it amazing to be able to take a rough stone and do something with it,” Quigno said. “It makes me come back”

Akii Ndodem (Earth Totem) is a carved Anishinaabek limestone sculpture created by Jason Quigno, a local Anishinaabe artist. Photo provided to MLive by GVSU.GVSU

According to the criteria developed by the selection committee, the structure was to contain the themes of “unity, shared humanity and the representation of its location”, first inhabited by indigenous groups.

Quigno said the piece needed to be on a scale that stood out in a downtown area surrounded by tall buildings.

However, the size of the structure also created a technical challenge, he said, as it had to be lifted and carried.

Accordingly, Quigno created the sculpture in sections, securing each part with sturdy epoxy and steel pins.

When people walk on the Grand Rapids campus, Quigno hopes the community will see the peace imitated by the sculpture.

“I hope they feel a sense of peace because that’s what I’m always looking for in my life,” he said. “This piece is Anishinaabek inspired.

“He will be here long, long after we are gone. I’m glad our stories are set in stone here.

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